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Cultura y representaciones sociales

On-line version ISSN 2007-8110


GIMENEZ, Gilberto. Paradoxes and ambiguities of multiculturalism: cultures are not only different but also unequal. Cultura representaciones soc [online]. 2017, vol.11, n.22, pp.9-33. ISSN 2007-8110.

Cultural difference and its correlates at the axiological and normative level, such as “the right to be different” and “respect for cultural differences”, have become central and undeniable axioms of our time. For cultural reasons, these are concepts that are used against discrimination, racism and intolerance. But their proponents and promoters sometimes flirt dangerously with cultural relativism, in substantive rather than just methodological terms. They do so by asserting that all cultural differences are equally valuable and worthy of being preserved for the sake of being different. Without denying the principle of the necessary recognition of cultural plurality in the field of law and public policy, this paper seeks to introduce two fundamental correctives: (1) it is valid to celebrate and exalt cultural differences but without hiding their structural foundations, which are the structure of social inequality and the dissymmetry of power: cultures are not only different but also unequal 2) it is valid to celebrate and exalt cultural differences but without simultaneously weakening or cancelling these contradictions, through the establishment of globalized individualism, which is precisely what the State and the central institutions of modernity do by converting cultural differences in “facade differences”.

Keywords : Cultural difference; multiculturalism; cultural relativism; social inequality; globalized individualism.

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